Neighbours can be such sticky beaks when it comes to pets.
A Life Changing Moment
By Nikki Ah Wong
For The Enlightened Award
For The Unenlightened Collection
“There you are you naughty boy.”
I took my cat out of her hands and went to shut the door. Then, remembering I should be polite, I opened it again and said, “Thanks.”
The woman recovered her smile. “Hi, I’m Julie,” she said. “I found him on the road and I thought he might be yours. He seemed a little hungry so I fed him. I hope that is okay.”
“Sure,” I lied as I stroked my cat.
“I just love animals,” she said. She was so bouncy with happiness that her blonde ponytail was bobbing up and down. “I would be happy to feed him any time.”
That gave me an idea. “Would you like to come in?” I said and put on a smile.
“I haven’t got much time,” she said, but she came in.
It has been many years since anyone visited my house and I regretted it almost immediately. I could see Julie’s hand creep up under her nose as she tried to act as if she hadn’t noticed the smell.
I had forgotten about the smell. I didn’t notice it any more. “Sorry, I think there is a sewage leak,” I said. She was a big girl. I wondered if she dieted.
I showed her into the living room where she sat on the edge of the couch looking awkward. I sat on a nearby easy chair facing her.
“You haven’t told me your name,” she said, moving some clothes along the couch to get more comfortable.
“I’m Miriam,” I said. I wondered how long it had been since I had told anyone my name. How long since I had spoken to anyone other than the clerk at the grocery store. My life had become boring.
The cat jumped off my lap and up next to Julie. Julie reached out to tickle his ears. “What is his name?”
“I call him Seven. I have other cats but he is my favourite.”
The smile wavered. “Seven? Like the number? What an interesting name. Is there a reason you chose that name?”
I had to think fast. Tell or not tell? I decided to tell. There was no hurry. All I planned to do this afternoon was feed my cats.
“His name reminds me of a life changing moment,” I said. “A long time ago, I won two hundred dollars on a Lotto ticket. Money was tight, but I decided to spend it on a flight in a small plane. I had always wanted to fly.”
“How brave of you. Is that what changed your life?” asked Julie smiling widely.
“Not then,” I said. “At the airport, I met Sergio. He had deep grey eyes and long curly lashes. He talked me into skydiving instead.”
“Skydiving. That is life changing” Julie’s perky voice was getting annoying.
“Oh no” I said. When it was time to jump I couldn’t do it. Sergio stayed with me and we flew back together. I fell in love with him.”
“Oh how romantic,” said Julie as she looked around for a photo. I had no photos.
“Yes romantic,” I continued. “He made me pregnant and then left me to cope alone. My dad was angry, but my sister invited me to live with her.”
“That was nice of her,” Julie said with less bounce in her voice. I was tired of her interrupting. I gave her a look that would freeze burning coals. She looked stunned, then stood up with her keys in her hand.
“Please sit,” I said. She sat heavily on the edge of the couch again.
“Things were going well until I had the baby. She only lived for three days.”
Julie tried to look sympathetic but she just looked nervous. Her eyes kept darting to the door and back.
“My brother in law accused me of not taking care of the baby properly.” Julie watched me, her eyes wide and glistening.
“That was the first time I had to stab someone,” I said.
Julie looked as if she might faint. She stood up, murmuring something and tried to act as if she just happened to be heading to the door. I let her go. I wasn’t silly enough to have all my knives in the kitchen. I took the nice sharp hunting knife off the wall and followed her. There was no hurry. I had locked the door when she came in. Plus I wanted to finish my story.
“And THAT was the moment that changed my life,” I said.
Julie didn’t run for the door. She went left down the hall towards the cat’s room. She was stumbling. Falling against the wall as if I had already stabbed her.
I let her go for a bit. I liked the chase part.
She opened the door and froze with her hand over her mouth. I crept up behind her but she didn’t move. Even I was repulsed by the skull on the floor. The cats had made good work of it and flesh hung off everywhere. It was the last piece of my last visitor.
It was so nice of Julie to offer to feed my cats. I think that will be life changing for her.
It will also be a change for my favourite cat. “Come on Eight,” I said, “let’s go get some freezer bags.” And he came.